The Best Of Both Worlds – Episode 56

Slowly his tormented face softened to infinite tenderness and he reached out for her.

“My darling!” He enveloped her in his arms once again, and then suddenly his mind clicked into action. “You must sit down!”

He guided her to a chair and lowered her into it, as he would had she been injured or overcome with dizziness.

She laughed.

“I’m absolutely fine, really I am. Oh, Bert, you’re going to be a father! Isn’t it exciting? But you see, I couldn’t bear for you to go off across the world now!”

He sat before her, holding her hands in his.

“My dearest, this is the most wonderful news, and of course I absolutely hate the thought of going away.” He paused, measuring his words. “But I must see to the safe return of my family and Emily. What sort of man would sit idly by, knowing that his household was in such need? Not one worthy of you, and not one to whom our child would look up. Jenny and the others will look after you. I – we all – will be back before we know it.”

He gazed into her face, noticing now that her cheeks had filled out a little. They were to be a family! Joy and pride surged through him, and with it the now-familiar feeling of disbelief, that this beautiful, extraordinary vision actually loved and needed him. He had always felt so insignificant, so purposeless. But his Thea had given him everything he’d always wished for, and now, they were to have a child. How delighted his parents would be!

But there was the terrible possibility that he could be returning without them, and what was almost certain was the horror of financial ruin. He had seen the accounts, knew about his father’s massive investment in the California ocean-side railway, a project that had doubtless collapsed and crumbled into the sea during those disastrous minutes of April 18.

“My darling Bert, you’re so brave, and I can see that you’re right. Of course you must go. Will you write to me?”

“Every day. And I’ll be keeping in close touch with Runciman,” he continued, “to make sure you’re being well looked after. You haven’t told anyone else our wonderful news, have you?”

“Of course not, silly! Though I’ve wondered if perhaps Jenny has guessed. She’s had to loosen my corsets at least an inch.”

“We must celebrate.” Surely he could allow himself this moment of happiness!

He rang the bell, and the butler appeared.


“Two bottles of the best champagne, Runciman. And call the staff to the drawing-room, please.”

“Champagne, sir?”

“Yes. And you’ll have to book passage for me to America. There’s no time to lose.”

The butler caught sight of the newspaper lying on the table, with its photographs of devastation from California, then looked at the countess, baffled at the sight of her wide, radiant smile.

Would he ever understand these people?

“Very good, sir.”


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